Thanks to some well timed henriquing, there will in fact be a game to watch on Saturday night, and there is a decent chance we’ll even be together to watch somebody hoist the Stanley Cup. Not gonna lie: I will get emotional.
The game is supposed to start at 8, but who knows what kind of nonsensical padding and human interest story fluff NBC will air beforehand. If Costas shows up, you know it’s gonna be bad.
It’s only been the offseason for a couple weeks, and we already miss you guys. So we had a thought: why don’t we all get together, share some laughs, and watch maybe the last hockey game of the year?
So. Saturday, June 9, 7 PM. Come to Front Page VA to watch Game Five* of the Stanley Cup Finals with us. Front Page will have some TVs tuned to the game, specials for the hungry and thirsty among us, and a small army of service staff waiting at your beck and call.
Ovi happy, Alzner sad. Pic’s blurry, but yet so very, very perfect. (Photo credit: Tarik El-Bashir)
Karl Alzner has been hating on everything Russian over the past week. First, he gave us low marks on RMNB’s “Caps Fans and Bad Habits” post. More recently, he bet against Team Russia in the WJC and the only Caps prospect in the tournament, Evgeny Kuznetsov. Why? So he could show allegiance to his Canadian homeland. Deplorable.
And that’s why the humility train made a quick stop at Kettler Capitals IcePlex. Alzner had to wear an ugly Russia jersey from the pits of Alex Ovechkin’s closet. Alzner wore the unsightly thing all practice long and described it as “the worst morning of my life.”
Just before hitting the ice, Joe Bowser of the Warrior team was asked what their strategy was to beat the Congressional squad, “Just show up,” he joked. He later added, “And we promise to pay our taxes on time.”
Rep. Quigley of the Congressional Team waits for another shift. (Photo credit: Craig Brownstein)
The rain didn’t do much to dampen attendance at Kettler last night and the stands held a raucous crowd, primarily Warriors boosters. But it was the Obama address to the Joint Session of Congress that kept a number of elected officials away. But as per usual in this town, the hard work (and scoring) was done by the staff. Rep. Mike Quigley was the sole elected official to play last night. We thanked him for the time he gave us earlier this week when we previewed the game. Just before taking the ice, and maybe a bit torqued on how we characterized him, Quigley looked at us and said, “Pugnacious?” Mustering every bit of confidence that 15 years at C-SPAN will give a guy, we looked him square in the eye and replied, “What – did we spell it wrong?”
“It’s tough, it’s fast, and you better be highly skilled,” says the Chicago pol bluntly. “Believe me, I’ve got my share of bruises and stitches over the years. There’s a brutal beauty to it.”
Rep. Quigley during last year's Warriors game.
You could be forgiven for thinking the not-quite-second term Democrat and former Cook County Commissioner was talking about politics– Chicago-style or otherwise. But he’s talking about his other hard-knocks passion: hockey.
Stocky and pugnacious, Rep. Quigley looks and talks like a guy who’s been around the rink a few million times. He should. “I’ve been playing since I was eight years old, skating around on old frozen lagoons,” he says. “Twenty degrees below zero, all of that. And I never stopped. I played every chance I could get.”
Quigley loves everything about hockey. Watching it: “Sitting at the old Chicago Stadium – 3rd row, 2nd box behind the blue line– man, that place just shook. Never shoulda torn it down.” Playing it: “My favorite play out there is setting up a bang-bang play, you know, a real good-looking goal.” Even tweaking his opponents about it: “When I was Cook County commissioner, I passed this resolution, right before the Winter Classic between Detroit and the Blackhawks. All the whereas’s and here-to-for’s … but if you read every red capitalized letter, it spells out “DETROIT SUCKS.” (We checked it out. He really did.)
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Drew Hill doesn’t sound like a guy whose life needed saving. He’s confident and friendly, with that ingrained Army habit of calling you “Sir,” and he loves talking about hockey. “Chippy,” it turns out, is one of his favorite descriptions for just about everything.
The Warriors pose for a photo after a recent game.
We spoke recently just as he stepped off the ice after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. He was tired — “Sorry about being winded, Sir,” he said — but eager to talk about his team of military pals who don skates as often as they can. Whether they have all their limbs or not. After all, they have a big game coming up.
Hill is a member of USA Warriors Ice Hockey, a project of USA Hockey and the NHL, that gets wounded American combat veterans out on the ice, playing hockey, no matter if they’ve ever played before or not.
Hill was one of those who had. “I played off and on through high school and up from there,” he told me. “But when I got into the Army I had to back it off a bit. Then I got hurt in Afghanistan in 2006; I picked it back up. Hockey was a life-saver for me.”
In fighting, Hill’s right ankle was essentially shattered and had to be completely rebuilt. “I’ve got titanium and all kinds of metal down there,” he said. His rehabilitation was long and, as they often are, difficult. “Physical therapy was great, but it just wasn’t aggressive enough. I was still walking with a cane. Well, I strapped on a pair of skates and started skating around, and the therapy I got from being on the ice basically got me working my right leg again.”
Hill’s story is a familiar one to anyone who plays with, or knows of , Warriors Ice Hockey. Composed of wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s part exercise, part amateur league, and part therapy. And this Thursday at 7pm, the puck will drop at Kettler on a big game — the Wounded Warriors vs. the Congressional hockey team.
Next Thursday evening, September 8, was going to find the PuckBuddys at Kettler (on assignment for RMNB!) covering the game between the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Team and the Lawmakers, made up of members of Congress and their staff.
We’ve been doing interviews this week with the Warriors’ coach and players, only to find out this morning that there may be a scheduling complication.
It seems nothing is easy in Washington anymore. The tiff between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner that pushed the President’s Joint Session address on jobs to Thursday evening may affect the charity game. We’ll stay in contact with the Warrior front office and share developments as soon as we learn more.
The Warriors are an amazing group of guys, and we look forward to sharing their remarkable stories. The congressional team? Meh. You know who we’re rooting for.
William scores on an out of position Semyon Varlamov. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
It was an ordinary day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Caps players took part in an optional practice, one of the countless and rather mundane skates they will participate in this season. That was, of course, until William Shannon joined in.
William is five years old and suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His dream is to play for the Washington Capitals. For a few hours at least that dream was realized thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter.
With the players wrapping up their on-ice workout, William took the ice, clad in the sweater of his favorite player, Alex Ovechkin, and Ovi’s signature yellow laces. He has been playing hockey since 2009, but had to stop late that year because of side-effects from his treatment. That didn’t keep him out of the rink for long, however, and in February of last year he was back, feeling so weak he had to use a walker, but nonetheless on the ice.
“This is phenomenal. This is every kid’s wish,” William’s mom Sandra told me. “For William, it’s even bigger. Hockey is what has gotten him through. Our hard days, our tough days, we are watching hockey. On our better days he’s playing hockey … To actually be strong enough, to be confidant enough, to be good enough of a skater to hold his own in a way with these players out here, you know, it’s joyful. It’s hope. It’s saying, ‘you’ve got a lifetime’.”